Republic Day: What’s working on a patriotic song like?
On Republic Day, singers, composers and writers share what goes into making a patriotic song
On Republic Day, singers, composers and writers share what goes into making a patriotic song.
Sonu Nigam (singer)
I have been fortunate to have started my mainstream film song career with Sandese Aate Hain (Border; 1997). I was 22 when I recorded it. It was my first-ever hit, which is among the most iconic patriotic tracks even today. People cry when I sing it on stage even now.
I feel fortunate to have recorded so many patriotic songs after that, including Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna and Mera Rang De Basanti Chola (both from The Legend of Bhagat Singh; 2002), Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaye (Sarfarosh; 1999), songs from Refugee (2000) and LOC: Kargil (2003) and my recent number Maati Ko Maa Kehte Hain. I loved the way composer Rochak Kohli knew exactly how he wanted Maati Ko Maa Kehte Hain to be. I enjoyed working on it. I understand the flavour and attitude needed for singing a patriotic song. You cannot sound romantic or artificial. Your voice should have a feeling of surrender for the country.
Favourite patriotic song: Sandese Aate Hain
Salim Merchant (composer-singer)
Working on a patriotic song is like making a track for your mother. The emotions you invest are very intense. When we were making Mera Desh Hi Dharam, which was an ode to our armed forces, it was reflective of serving your country. So the emotion of devotion and sacrifice had to be kept in mind.
When you work on a patriotic song that’s part of a film, it becomes even more beautiful because the song gets an incredible reach. The most difficult song that we’ve worked on was Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan (Chak De! India; 2007). It had to capture the spirit of India’s victory and the spirit of a man’s fight to prove that he’s not a traitor. It’s also special because it was added to the film just a week before release. Late Yash Chopra (filmmaker) ji wanted a song at a point when (actor) Shah Rukh Khan’s character looked at the Tiranga and had tears in his eyes. We recorded it in one day.
Favourite patriotic song: Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan
Working on a patriotic song is about evoking the exact emotion that is required in the film and script. There are a few traditional and tested methods, instruments and even ragas that support such specific feelings.
The chance of sounding repetitive is high because people have references in their subconscious about a patriotic song. After Teri Mitti (2019), I was offered many films that demand patriotic numbers. The challenge is always to match or exceed benchmarks. I feel for any song, literature is very important and even more in case of patriotic tracks. After Kesari, I made patriotic songs for Bhuj: The Pride of India and Satyameva Jayate 2 (both 2021).
Favourite patriotic song: Jana Gana Mana (our National Anthem)
Mahalakshmi Iyer (singer)
Singing a patriotic song gives you a high. Indians are very emotional as far as their freedom struggle and history of the country is concerned. So whenever we recall those memories and talk about our country, it brings a lump in your throat even now.
When you render a patriotic song, all those emotions are captured in your conscience. I have sung quite a few patriotic songs, including Suno Gaur Se Duniya Walo (Dus; 1997), Des Rangila (Fanaa; 2006) and Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire; 2008). Des Rangila is special as it describes our motherland beautifully.
Favourite patriotic songs: Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon and Hum Laye Hain Toofan Se Kashti Nikal Ke (Jagriti; 1954)
Kaushal Kishore (lyricist)
Jab bhi mujhe apne desh ke baare mein likhne ka mauka milta hai, mujhe bahut khushi hoti hai. When you write about a culturally diverse country like India, you have to be careful about picking the right words. Your thoughts should be able to unite people.
Jaise hi koi gaana Tirange se jud jaata hai, woh bada ho jaata hai. I remember when I wrote the song Muskurayega India during the pandemic when the entire country was in a state of panic, I felt proud as it instilled hope in people. It was also a pleasure to write Vande Mataram, which was sung by (actor) Tiger Shroff and Jeeta Rahe Mera India.
Favourite patriotic songs: Muskurayega India